God it really annoys me when people say "it was fine the way it was", "what a waste of money" etc etc... The square was an absolute disgrace before the renovation started, a mess of poor planting, stunted trees, horrible 60's paving and even more horrible street furniture and bus stops. Are people's memories so short?
It's by no means perfect now, the paving material used on most of the surfaces is utter crap, stone aggregate slabs that look no better than bog standard concrete with too-wide jointing and lots of chips and cracks appearing already. The paving also shows up dirt and grease to a shocking extent, especially in the otherwise quite nicely done "market" area at the top of the square and the overriding grey-ness can look very grim on wet days.
However, substantial areas have been paved with proper stone which looks fantastic, the green areas are looking beautiful and the limestone clad walls that mark the changes in level and define pathways look great (potential skateboarder's paradise though..). The fountain is looking quite snazzy though would have been better left flush with the ground. The street furniture, light fittings, bus stops etc all look great. And the bound gravel/resin surface along the curved route through the square is really nice as well.
I do wish that the browne doorway had been removed from the square and placed into the city museum as originally planned. It's really deteriorating rapidly and could do with being sheltered properly and it looks completely wrong standing in the middle of the new triangular plaza at the top of the square. The plaza is rightly focussed on the rusty sails sculpture but the doorway really fragments the space and takes away from what could be a spectacular public gathering place. The kiosk and toilets have been clad in copper which, as ive said in another thread, is a huge mistake - it looks fairly cliched and it's also going to look disgusting after it's been grafittid, puked/pissed on and stoot up against for a few weeks. Copper cladding is not suitable for ground level uses!! It can't be effectively cleaned.
Overall im very impressed and happy with the scheme, However i hope that sense prevails and that the horrible paving gets replaced sooner than later with proper stone as should have happened in the first place. How come O'Connell St, Henry St, Patrick St. in Cork etc etc could all be paved completely in high quality stone and Galway had to settle for cheap and nasty crap...